Global marketing strategy director
Startups are driving the future of our industry and through Unilever Foundry we’re connecting our global brands to these pioneers. Over the last year, we’ve launched pilots with over 60 startups in 30 countries. Our ‘Pitch-pilot-partner’ process is putting startups at the core of how we do marketing. It’s a win-win-win: for startups, consumers and Unilever. We’re helping startups to scale up, consumers experience more engaging brand interactions, and for us, we’re building partnerships for the future.
It’s time for the industry to take startups seriously. Here’s why: Techspiration. Startups are building some of the most innovative technology in the world. But it’s vital that we move beyond inspiration and into the perspiration stage. Putting tech to work is key.
The business case. We’ve always assumed there was a strong business rationale for what we are doing, but now we are starting to prove it. Typically, startups are bringing solutions that are up to half the cost of our existing tools, and deliver engagement rates 40 per cent to 50 per cent higher than traditional mediums.
Prepare to Learn. There has never been a more important time to experiment, take risks, fail fast and rapidly iterate. These behavioural traits come naturally to the entrepreneur — and the good news is, they’re contagious.
Global media innovations director
At Mondelez we have several active programmes that work directly with startup tech and media innovation companies, but we certainly don’t do it for the simple cache or the me-too factor of a large corporate. We work with startups not just to be more relevant to the modern marketing world, but mainly to change our thinking and culture internally. To attract and keep the right talent and to set ourselves up as an organisation able to compete now and in the future.
In the next few years we are going to see a war on talent like never before. The appeal of large digital platforms such as Facebook and Google, the rewards they offer, or the entrepreneurial drive of a can-do startup in the adtech world are by far the more appealing routes for the best talent coming into the marketplace. If we want to compete, we need to both think like startups and large tech companies do, and bring some of that way of working into large organisations like our own.
The immediate and tangible benefit to programmes we have like Mobile Futures or Media Innovators or Fly Garage is the effect it has on people, the ability to change them into sharp, modern-thinking ‘intrapreneurs’, who can become superstars themselves within Mondelez and help transfer that kind of infectious culture onto many others in a positive way.
I can tell you honestly that we can already see big benefits internally, which is having a demonstrable effect on work effort and morale, and that translates to better productivity and ultimately ROI for the marketers themselves and the brands they are working on all over the world.
Here are three overarching benefits brands gain from working with startups:
Startups can help spark innovation within large brands by infusing creativity and providing a forward-looking perspective. While startups focus on speed, innovation and disruption, brands tend to favour structure and bureaucracy. The technology and innovation that startups bring can assist in increasing sales or reducing costs.
Secondly, large companies often find it difficult to penetrate new markets. This is because these companies take years to build up their brand name, resulting in customers buying into a particular company philosophy. However, by collaborating with startups, they are able to expedite the process of altering their existing company vision, allowing them access to market segments they previously had difficulty penetrating.
Lastly, startups are the homes to undiscovered pools of talent. This is mainly due to the difference in startup and corporate culture. The nature of startup culture causes the attraction of ambitious individuals seeking to defy social norms. By partnering with startups, brands can leverage this unique way of thinking to improve their technology, thereby increasing the efficiency of their processes and cutting costs.
This article is part of the Campaign Innovate series, a collection of articles that examine the way innovation, startups and technology are affecting the advertising and marketing industry.
Campaign Asia-Pacific has also launched the Campaign Innovate competition, an event that aims to provide a platform for Asia-Pacific's startups to pitch to some of the world's biggest brands. The winner will be announced at the Marketing Innovation Summit.